Monthly Archives: August 2010

Deadline for the Photobomb Today!

Hello all!

Just a quick note to say that today is the postmark deadline for the Photobomb project Karen Walrond is hosting. (This is the photo project for peace I wrote about here.)

I had some trouble getting my photo submission properly developed, so mine’s going out — just in time! — with today’s mail. I’m sending the photo above, a sweet photo of my girl kitty who teaches me much about God’s love.

Before mailing the photo, I need to decide on a message of peace and love to write on the back.

I’d love to hear your thoughts:

What message of peace and love do you think this photo best expresses? What are her eyes telling you?

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Be the Change: What’s Yours?

Hi there, everyone!

I’m excited to come to you via video post today. Thought it would be a fun way to feel like I am actually talking to you, rather than just writing to you like I always do.

In this video, I’m inviting each of us to consider the question:

What does it look like — or could it look like — for me to be the change I wish to see in the world?

In the second half of the video, I share with you how I personally would respond to that question. Please share your own response in the comments below!

More Thoughts on the Military: In the End, We Are (Still) All the Same

[A father greets his 7-year-old daughter in a special reunion at her elementary school. Photo by DVIDSHUB.]

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Hi there, friends.

I so appreciate the thoughts shared on my last post, wherein I confessed my recent struggle to know how best to behold military servicemen and servicewomen these days.

Sarah’s comment, in particular, gave me a lot to think about:

Many members of the military are just doing their jobs. They chose to join for college money, and stayed because the retirement is amazing, or because they have a family and it’s the only way they can count on to make ends meet. So while I might disagree with the decisions made in the upper echelons of leadership, most of that doesn’t apply to the individuals I see.

This comment made an impression on me because it reminded me of the humanity of those in uniform. And I find it ironic that I somehow lost sight of this simple truth, as the point of my post in the first place was the subject of our shared humanity. When viewing that military reunion video, for instance, I thought of the mothers in Afghanistan and Iraq who most certainly embrace their sons returning from war with the same tears of joy that the American mothers did in that video. The point of the post was that, in the end, we are all the same.

And yet somehow, when encountering men or women in military uniform of late, all I have been able to see is their uniform. A military uniform became an immediate label in my mind, something that divided me from the one wearing it because they represented a worldview I’ve been coming to reject. And just as I critiqued the military for training men and women to distrust “the other,” I was exercising the same flawed prejudice toward those who choose to serve in the armed forces.

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Last night, as I was reading in bed, I came across a section in Gandhi’s autobiography that pulled me right back into the reality of this nonviolence journey:

Man and his deed are two distinct things. Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation and a wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked, always deserves respect or pity as the case may be. ‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practised, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.

. . . It is quite proper to resist and attack a system, but to resist and attack its author is tantamount to resisting and attacking oneself. For we are all tarred with the same brush, and are children of one and the same Creator, and as such the divine powers within us are infinite. To slight a single human being is to slight those divine powers, and thus to harm not only that being but with him the whole world.

All of this reminded me that this journey is about learning to regard my neighbor — each and every one — as a human being worthy of my respect and kindness. In the same way that God has, for some reason beyond my knowledge, given me an ability in recent history to look upon those who bring harm to their citizens, who torture their enemies, and who commit crimes against others with an incredible degree of compassion, concern, and love, I am meant to regard my brothers and sisters in uniform with the same degree of care and equanimity.

I need to remember this:

On the nonviolent journey, I am seeking a better means to create a more just and humane world. I am not seeking to demonize those who hold different views than I do.

If today were Repentance Thursday, I would confess my ill-founded prejudice against those who serve in the military. I would confess having distanced my heart from those individuals based on their clothes and their livelihood. I would confess the need for greater love.

On the Military: In the End, We Are All the Same

[This video on military reunions went viral earlier this week. It moved me a lot because it showed me how fundamentally alike each of us are as humans. We all love, and when our loved ones — especially those whose lives have been in danger — return home, our immediate response is to smile, and to cry, and to embrace them. It is a response, I believe, that transcends country or continent.]

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I have to confess that I have been struggling to know how to regard military servicemen and servicewomen these days.

It used to be that I could see those in military uniforms and give them a smile of gratitude. I was in awe of their service and commitment, even no matter the country they served. Though I was never as brave as my husband, who can walk up to American individuals in uniform and shake their hands and thank them for their service, still my gratitude and awe ran deep whenever someone in uniform crossed my path.

But ever since I started walking this road of nonviolence, I’ve become awkward with all of this. On the one hand, I still hold all military servicepersons in quite high esteem. Anyone willing to put their own life and safety on the line for anything they believe is worth dying for — and to do it, what’s more, for the benefit and safety of others — garners my complete respect.

But in other ways, the violence standing at the core of all military presence feels stifling, painful, and overwhelming to me. The truth is, we train our military men and women to kill. We train them to distrust the “other.” We train them to live and respond defensively and offensively as a way of life. We recalibrate their makeup for violence.

This bothers me.

I am still working through what I think about these things because I know the realities of life in this big, wide world prevent most of my ideals from ever seeing the light of day. I wish that wasn’t the case. I wish that we could, collectively, see that we are each human, no matter our nationality, and that we carry the same basic needs and desires. I wish the citizens of earth could care more about nurturing life than denigrating and ending it.

And maybe that is still possible here. Maybe someday the whole world will find the enlightenment that leads to lovingkindness as a way of life. I suppose that’s why I keep walking this path, seeking to learn from the masters who have gone before us, the prophets who saw beyond the circumstances surrounding them and led others to freedom and change. Perhaps someday, in some small way, God will use my own life to help the wider world find life and peace.

I hope that is the case.

But until that day, I will keep struggling and wrestling and asking the hard questions I don’t quite know how to answer yet.

I’m curious: Do you have any thoughts on this?

Moment of Love Wednesday: August 2010

Hello there, friends.

This post is reaching you a couple days later than planned. My apologies! Hopefully you’ll forgive my tardiness once you hear about my find for this month’s Moment of Love Monday. It’s simply amazing.

But before I share it, I want to say how much I love the way you responded last month to the idea of using this monthly feature to showcase others putting love into action in the world, especially when their doing so reflects two of the core values of our tribe:

  1. A commitment to offering creative, life-giving love in response to any degree of violence or hatred, and
  2. An unwavering belief in the power of love to overcome violence.

I’m looking forward to the things we’ll learn together as we explore what others are doing to bring greater light and love into our world in creative ways. (And if you come across any great stories that ought to be featured, feel free to send them my way! My e-mail address is christianne at journeytowardnonviolence dot com.)

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And now for this month’s feature.

Meet Karen Walrond.

Karen writes one of my favorite blogs on the internet, Chookooloonks. It’s an incredible photography blog infused with a whole lot of soul. I’m constantly in awe of what Karen can do with a macro lens (for example, see this), and I love the way she translates her careful attention to detail and beauty behind the lens into making the world a more caring, human place.

For example, this fall Karen is publishing a book called The Beauty of Different. It’s a book that combines photography and words to celebrate what is unique and different in each one of us, based on the idea that these unique little gems — even those parts we deem imperfections — are what make us so heart-achingly beautiful.

Don’t you just love that idea?

Another example: Karen has been running full-steam-ahead on a pretty fantastic life list, and one item on her list includes the audacious goal to photograph 1000 beautifully different faces. Yes, you read that right: one thousand different faces.

That is just incredible. And perhaps even more incredible is how big a dent she’s already made in that goal in a matter of months.

This woman is a warrior!

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So, speaking of Karen as warrior, let me tell you about a campaign she’s running this month on her blog that we can be a part of.

She calls it Photobomb.

Here is the story of how I learned about it. Two weekends ago, I logged onto Twitter and noticed three consecutive tweets from Karen resting near the top of my Twitter feed:

I’ll be honest. When I first saw these tweets, I didn’t think much of them and just kept scrolling through the rest of my feed. But then a few moments later I saw this update from Karen:

Okay, how could I not sit up and take notice when I read that?!

So I went back and read the link in her initial tweet. It leads to a CNN article about a church in Gainesville, Florida that is staging a Quran-burning event on September 11. The church believes Islam is “of the devil” and is promoting the event on a Facebook page that had (as of the article’s printing) 1,600 fans.

When Karen put out the request on Twitter for constructive ideas to counteract the Quran-burning event, someone suggested sending cards and images of peace to the church as a reminder of love. It reminded Karen of a photo drive she ran on her blog last Christmas (one that had been wildly successful), and suddenly it made complete sense to do just that.

In that moment, Photobomb was born.

Now through August 25, Karen is collecting photos from people around the world who want to send the church in Gainesville a different message — a message of peace — in the hopes of counteracting their violent affront against Islam, its followers, and their holy book.

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I’m sure it’s easy to tell why this Photobomb project would inspire me. My own journey toward nonviolence began when I encountered the idea that love was the only force powerful enough to overcome violence. Nearly two years have elapsed since that moment, and every day I still live each day with the question Is it true? ringing in the back of my mind.

I want to see what — if anything — sending images and messages of peace to that church in Gainesville can do to make a difference.

But even if it doesn’t make any kind of difference, I guess the truth is that I want to do it anyway. So much of this nonviolent path is really about who we will choose to be in any given moment or when faced with any situation.

When faced with this particular situation, then, I want to choose peace and love.

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So, here is the image of peace I am sending to Karen in this coming week. It’s a picture of my little girl kitty, Diva, looking up with the same eyes of great trust and vulnerability she turns on me each day. It’s a look that breaks my heart every time because it fills my heart with more love and care for her than I hardly know how to hold inside myself. And truthfully, it’s a look that teaches me more about God’s love for me and my love for him than reading the Bible does most days.

Perhaps this picture will provoke similar feelings of tenderness and love in the hearts of those who receive it in Gainesville.

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So, what about you? Will you be a part of the Photobomb project? If so, click here to learn how to participate.

And if you do participate, share a link in the comments below to the photo you will send! It would be fun to see the ways in which our community participates in this counter-campaign of peace.

Repentance Thursday: August 2010

Hello, friends.

It’s been a while since I last posted, but it’s not for lack of thinking about you or this space. Your encouragement on my last post meant so much to me. I hope to get back to a regular posting schedule soon.

For now, it’s Repentance Thursday, so let’s turn our attention to this last month and how we might nurture repentance and forgiveness in our hearts today. (If you’re new to Repentance Thursday, you can learn more about its inception and our practice of it here.)

Reflect on the following questions as you consider the past month in retrospect:

  • Into what dark mires did my heart traverse?
  • In what ways did I bring harm to my fellow man, either in thought, word, or deed?
  • How did I sin against God?

After reflecting, you are welcome to leave a comment of confession below.

Blessings to you on this day. Thank you for being here.